Debate-watchers say Biden won first debate – CBS News poll

In the first presidential debate between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, voters who watched Tuesday night say Biden won the debate, but those who watched the heated exchanges overwhelmingly called the debate’s tone negative, and most said they felt annoyed watching it. 

Forty-eight percent say Biden won, while 41% think Trump was the winner. Biden’s margin here is not too different than his lead in national polls. Ten percent called the debate a tie.


Immediately after the debate, the CBS News Battleground Tracker interviewed likely voters nationwide who watched the debate in order to get their reaction.   

More than eight in 10 voters who watched describe the debate’s tone as negative, including majorities of each candidate’s supporters. 


Few voters who watched found the debate informative. Just 17% said it was. Most came away feeling annoyed:  it was the top feeling expressed by each candidate’s supporters. A third of voters felt entertained — more of Mr. Trump’s voters felt this way than Biden’s. 


Biden was able to convince more of those in his party that he was the winner of the first debate than Mrl Trump was able to convince people in his party. Ninety-two percent of Democrats who watched say he won, compared to 82% of Republicans who say Trump won. Thirteen percent of Republicans called the debate a draw, although independents gave Trump the edge.  

On balance, more debate watchers said their opinion of Biden improved than said that about Mr. Trump.  Three in four Democrats said the debate gave them a better impression of Biden, while Republicans were a bit more divided about their candidate. Fifty-two percent of Republicans said the debate made them feel better about Mr. Trump; 42% said their view of him had not changed. Few in each party came away with a more negative view of their party’s candidate after the debate.


This CBS News survey is based on 1,039 interviews of likely voters who reported watching the presidential debate on Tuesday, September 29, 2020. Respondents were previously interviewed  by YouGov between September 25-28, 2020 to indicate whether they planned to watch the debate, and if they were willing to be re-interviewed after the debate. The margin of error is +/- 3.4 points.


Leave a Reply